New Covid variant : Ireland to join in EU ‘emergency brake’ on travel to and from south African countries

Irish residents who are currently in countries where the new Covid variant has been discovered will be placed in strict mandatory quarantine upon their return.

Saturday, 27th November 2021, 11:49 am

This is one of a number of measures being taken by the Irish government after a new Covid variant has been identified in southern Africa, which has given rise to increased concern.

“As a result,” the Irish government said in a statement “travel from a number of countries (Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) poses a risk, based detection of cases or geographical proximity to those countries where cases have been detected.

Ireland currently has no direct flights from any of these countries.”

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill pictured back in 2020 at a press conference. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

At present passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are required to have proof of Covid vaccine or recovery status, or evidence of a “not detected” PCR test, prior to departure.

A number of further steps are now being taken, following consideration of the latest developments at EU level:

Ireland will align with the EU Recommendation to apply the “emergency brake” in respect of the countries concerned (i.e. Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe) and discourage travel to/from these countries.

The Department of Justice is updating visa requirements for those countries.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has changed its travel advisory to “avoid non-essential travel” to these countries.

Irish residents returning home from these countries will be required to undergo strict home quarantine regardless of vaccine/recovery/test status, and undergo PCR testing during quarantine.

Mandatory Hotel Quarantine options are being examined on a contingency basis.

The Department of Transport has engaged with carriers to ensure that all relevant pre-departure requirements (Covid Certificate, PCR test evidence, Passenger Locator Forms) are rigorously complied with.

The Department of Justice meanwhile is arranging increased BMU spot-checking of passengers on arrival.

“The situation regarding this new variant will be kept under continuous review by all relevant bodies,” the government stated.

The EU recommendation applies to Schengen countries but Ireland is free to choose to align with it.

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